Paul headshot

For thousands of years, the people who have inhabited this peninsula have made their livelihoods from the sea. The Wampanoag people used quahogs as a food staple, and their shells as valuable wampum for trade. Cape Cod’s history and identity have been shaped by water-dependent industries like fishing, aquaculture, whaling, salt works, and deep-sea research. Even our tourism sector - a relatively new industry at just about 100 years old – has relied heavily on water-based leisure and recreation. 

The water that surrounds us, and the significant economic opportunity it presents, still drives the Cape Cod region today. Across the world, this “Blue Economy” cluster, comprised of industries as diverse as tourism, fishing, and water-based research and technology, has been heralded as the next great economic frontier.  

The Blue Economy accounts for $2.5 trillion per year in global economic activity, making it the seventh-largest economy by GDP. At the national level, the rate of growth for the U.S. marine economy has, in recent years, outpaced growth in the overall economy.  

Here on Cape Cod, blue industries account for 16% of our economy. But what is “blue?” With 559.6 miles of coastline and hundreds of fresh and saltwater ponds, Cape Cod is a hub of blue economy activity. When we eat local seafood, enjoy water-based recreation like a kayak tour, or take a ferry to or from the Cape, we are supporting the blue economy. Countless businesses rely – either directly or indirectly – on our region’s proximity to the water.  

Given how much of our regional economy is blue, it’s critical that we invest in developing a workforce with the skillsets needed to meet our future industry needs.  

Enter: The Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation. A sister organization of the Cape Cod Chamber, the Blue Economy Foundation was established in 2017 to promote and sustain maritime-focused and water-based businesses in the region. A major focus of the Foundation is education and fostering the next generation of blue economy stewards.  

At the Blue Economy Foundation’s signature WaterWORKS event in January of this year, 300 high school students from the Cape & Islands were provided with an opportunity to engage directly with 60 Blue Economy businesses and organizations. Students spoke directly with people working in a variety of sectors within the Blue Economy: offshore wind developers, marine life specialists, boat and aircraft builders, water quality technicians, transportation, fishing, and more. Students were surprised to learn how many different career opportunities are available here on Cape Cod. The business exhibitors reported feeling energized by their interactions with the students, and hopeful for the future.  

Later this month, the Blue Economy Foundation will again welcome high school students from across the Cape – this time for an epic robot battle. Yes, you read that right. As part of the second annual Big Blue Conference, the Foundation will host a Big Blue Expo on the evening of April 30, featuring high school robotics teams battling for the title of “Best Bots at Big Blue.”  

The Big Blue Conference itself will take place over two days – April 30 and May 1 – at Aloft Aviation at Cape Cod Gateway Airport. This event is designed to lead the conversation on blue economy-related topics like coastal ecology, water quality, commercial fishing, and beyond. This year’s Big Blue Conference theme is “It’s Electric!” We’ll be welcoming an incredible lineup of speakers to share more about the regional connections between the blue economy, clean energy, transportation, and coastal resilience. Students will be in attendance, along with regional community leaders, decision makers, and blue economy industry professionals from near and far. Registration is open now for Big Blue. Save your spot and get a front row seat as we explore the future of our region's blue economy.

Blue industries offer a sustainable and balanced way to grow our economy by focusing on the protection and promotion of Cape Cod's precious water and coastal resources. Water has always played a critical role in the everyday lives and livelihoods of Cape Codders. On Cape Cod, our environment is our economy. The work of the Blue Economy Foundation recognizes and stewards this connection to benefit our region for many years to come.  


Is your business "blue?" Use this quick assessment to find out!

Is your business reliant on bodies of water? If YES, your business is DARK blue. (example: commercial fishing)

Is your business stronger because of its proximity to water, but not reliant on the water for its success? If YES, your business is MEDIUM blue. (example: luxury resort)

Is your business near the water, but not reliant on it, or stronger because of this proximity? If YES, your business is LIGHT blue. (example: ice cream shop)


Shades of Blue